Fully Known, Fully Loved
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” ~ Psalm 139:3-4
Life is a masquerade, just like the song says. Everyone puts on a mask from time-to-time. While these masks may not be brightly painted, flamboyantly feathered or bejeweled, their intended purpose is still the same: to conceal our true identity. Masks serve a variety of purposes from helping us gain acceptance in certain situations or with certain people, to protecting us from being hurt. We develop these masks in response to a lifetime of trying to fit in, get along, and gain the approval of the people around us. What we don’t realize along the way is that in self-protecting, we are constructing a persona that can become a prison of our own making. This self-protective prison leaves us feeling isolated, misunderstood, unworthy and unlovable because it is only when we are fully known that we can know for sure we are fully loved. Take a moment to sit with that: the only way you can be assured that someone completely loves you, is if you dare to let them know who you really are. But being fully known involves vulnerability; it includes risk…and that is scary. What if they don’t like me?
I grew up in a small town where appearances were everything…or so I thought. As a child, I believed perfection was achievable because anything less was unacceptable, and deep down, I knew (or believed) I was thoroughly flawed. If people found out…well, the consequences seemed too terrible to consider. To my young mind, the worst thing in the world was to have someone spread gossip about me…even if it was true - especially if it was true! So I learned to lie. I pretended to like things and people I didn’t like because that was the “nice” thing to do, and I learned to cover up my less-than-desirable behavior, regardless of the cost. The most important thing was to make sure people liked me. It was exhausting.
Much later I realized that no matter what I did, not everyone was going to like me. It stood to reason, because I didn’t automatically like everyone I met either, but for some reason I wanted them to like me. The decision to let that go was so liberating. I was finally able to be authentic; free to be the “me” I had tried to hide for all those years – free to become the “me” I didn’t even know…
Looking back, I understand that if you think you have to lie about who you are to please someone, what does that say about who you are…and what does that tell you about who you think you are? Whether you are hiding from the world, or just from yourself, not living authentically becomes a habit that can cause you to lose touch with your true self. Pretty soon you have feelings you cannot reconcile with your circumstances, or you act in ways that are inconsistent with who you believe you are…or who you want to be.
I can’t even tell you the number of times I have prayed, “God, I know I am not supposed to want this but it is all I can think about. Please take this desire from my heart because I can’t get rid of it myself, and that is not the kind of person I want to be.” Believe it or not, that prayer works; maybe not instantaneously, but over time it really does work. I have also found myself praying, “God, please search every dark corner of my heart and reveal anything that is inconsistent with who you want me to be, then help me do whatever I need to do to get rid of it. I want to be the person you want me to be.” And finally, when all else fails, I have prayed, “God, I know you want me to give this thing up but I just can’t. Break my fingers if you must, but pry my fingers loose and help me release it. I know it will hurt but I can’t let go of it on my own.” This last prayer comes with a warning: don’t pray that if you don’t mean it! But in spite of the pain, the freedom is worth the cost.
Today, I still want to be liked and accepted…for myself. I work hard to be authentic and if I run across someone who doesn’t like me, it no longer ruins my day. God knows everything about me, loves me and accepts me completely, just as I am, and he is the only one who matters. He loves YOU exactly the same way. I encourage you to open your heart and ask Him to come in. Being fully known and fully loved is the best feeling on earth, and God knows all of the bad stuff anyway. Plus, breathing is so much easier without a mask.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for liberating me from my own limiting beliefs, and from the opinions of others. Thank you for loving me and accepting me just as I am. I open my heart to you today so you can help me remove whatever damaging emotions and thoughts I might be holding onto. Thank you, most of all, for showing me the inexpressible joy of being fully known and fully loved. I love you and praise you with all of my heart, mind, body and soul, in Jesus’ name, amen.
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” ~ Genesis 16:13 (NIV)
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)